Giants Top 50: #33 - Dan Ortmeier

He broke out in San Jose, but that was oh so long ago. More recently, he was the only player in the Eastern League to combine 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. But now? His stock is falling, and he has one last chance to bring it back up. Dan Ortmeier is #33!

#33 - Dan Ortmeier
Date of Birth: 05/11/1981 Position: OF Height: 6'4" Weight: 215 Bats: S Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd Round (#97 Overall) of the 2002 Draft
2006 Stats
Fresno - AAA .244 .293 .389 .683 262 37 64 14 3 6 33 16 40 8 6
San Francisco - NL .250 .250 .333 .583 12 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 4 0 0
Connecticut - AA .251 .328 .353 .681 167 17 42 9 1 2 11 17 38 7 4

Ortmeier came out of 2005 as a player with an underrated season, and primed for a breakout.  He had the only 20 home run-20 stolen base season in the Eastern League, and was moving to a hitting oriented Triple-A league.

The results of 2006 could only be called disappointing.

Ortmeier put together a paltry .683 OPS in half a season at Fresno, then went back to Double-A and managed to lower his OPS to .681.  And when Ortmeier got the chance at some playing time in the big leagues due to Moises Alou's injury, as well as one to teammate Todd Linden in Fresno, Ortmeier couldn't do anything to capitalize on the opportunity.

Ormeier's season wasn't an uninterrupted one.  The previously mentioned callup occurred just as he was getting a rhythm together in Fresno.  He had started the season 0-12 in his first four games, and the day of his callup, had just raised his average to a season high .294 and an OPS of .800.  And all in all, his major league callup was no great disaster, going 3 for 12 with a double.

But after returning to the Grizzlies, the bottom soon fell out of his game.  His average and splits fell through early July, and even his normally solid on-base percentage dropped under .300.  In early July, he suffered a minor leg injury, and after missing a week and a half, he was sent down to Connecticut and back to the Eastern League.

At least in Double-A, Ortmeier regained his ability to take a walk.  He started out well, batting .278 in July at Double-A, but his numbers plummeted the rest of the season, especially his power.  At the end of the year, the player who had hit 20 home runs in a hitting-challenged Eastern League had a grand total of 8 between Double-A and Triple-A, and only 15 stolen bases in 25 attempts compared to 35 in 47 attempts in 2005.

Injury and moving levels probably weren't the biggest hurdle that Ortmeier had to overcome.  The Giants had Ortmeier play 46 of his 68 games in Fresno in center field.  Ortmeier has always been an above-average corner outfielder with his range, but shoulder injuries have sapped his throwing arm.  The move to center came as right field in Fresno was once again home to Todd Linden, and Fred Lewis continued to suggest that he isn't a long term option in center.  The result was Ortmeier playing a position which was unfamiliar and pretty out of position, even with his range.  Ortmeier continued to play there in Connecticut, and that may have affected his precipitous drop in performance there.

Ortmeier has always played baseball with a footballer's attitude, and that has gotten him in trouble in the past.  Injury concerns still linger, and while he didn't miss much time with his leg problem this year, it was the final straw in a demotion for him.  In addition to that, Ortmeier did wilt later in the season.  And now, turning 26 in the middle of next year, the clock is ticking on the talented young player.

The biggest question for now is, where does Ortmeier play in 2007?  He almost certainly won't be in the majors, and he's too close to being out of options to not get another chance in Fresno.  But with Nate Schierholtz likely to move into Fresno's right field, and Eddy Martinez-Esteve a strong possibility in left, Ortmeier is likely to return to center if he is to get a chance to play.  However, even there he'll have to compete with Clay Timpner, who took over the Fresno center field job after Ortmeier left.

More than that, Ortmeier needs to answer some serious questions about his bat.  Was the 2003 season where he broke out in San Jose a fluke, or can he repeat it?  Time is running out for this talented young player, but he'll get one last chance to turn it up in 2007.

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